I admit, I'm not great about prayer. It's always been my struggle. Don't ask me why, because I have no clue! If someone asks me to pray for them, I most certainly do, but spontaneous prayer, or prayers before bed... aye yai yai; I fall apart. This evening, I decide to quite treating it like a struggle. Instead, I open my bible to Ephesians. I think I'll read all of Ephesians and lift it up as my prayer for the night, also asking God to help me more with spontaneous prayer. Why Ephesians? I love Ephesians 6:10-11:
"Finally, draw your strength fromt he Lord and from his mighty power. Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil."
This passage has been on my mind all week. As I'm reading through Ephesians chapter 6, another passage stands out to me, Ephesians 6:18-20:
"With all prayer and supplication, pray at every opportunity in the Spirit. To that end, be watchful with all perseverance and supplication for all the holy ones and also for me, that speech may be given me to open my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel for which I am an ambassador in chains, so that I may have the courage to speak as I must."
How appropriate. I was just thinking about prayers, and here is Ephesians 6:18 telling me to "pray at every opportunity." But 19-20 is my small scriptural revelation tonight.
Most people who know me realize I love to evangelize and can speak about the faith non stop. The reality is that this is almost impossible, isn't it? We can't sit and have these detailed theological conversations all day long, 24/7 - unless you are blessed with ALL Catholic colleagues, friends, and family - it just won't happen! Evangelizing is a gift I love, but as with all things, it is a struggle. I have to ask myself, where do I draw the line? It's like a balancing act; I wish to tell everyone the Good News and bring them closer to God, but I don't want to be so overzealous and push people away, (I think of the hypocrits Jesus refers to in Matthew 6:5*, or the Pharisee in Luke 18:9-14**). I have this love and burning desire within me to always talk about our Lord and my faith, but so often I am struggling, thinking ,and carefully choosing the right time and place to discuss these things.
It hits me, reading Ephesians 6:19-20, what Paul must feel like like in this passage, the ambassador in chains. On a physical sense, Paul may have refered to himself as the ambassador in chains because he spent time in prison, possibly while writing Ephesians, but Paul is so much deeper than that! He asks us to pray for him, "that speech may be given to open my mouth, to make known with the boldness and mystery of the Gospel..." and "to have the courage to speak as I must." Sometimes, I so badly want to discuss the faith, but must I? Is it appropriate at that time? Perhaps not. Will talking about religion 24/7 bring home fallen away Catholics or convert someone? Not necessarily. I must choose my words wisely. With that being said, so often I feel like the "ambassador in chains." We are all Christians, called to be ambassadors for Christ. Iwant to go to someone and help them have a personal revelation and "come home" right then! But, true ambassadors must pick and choose their words carefully; they must become familiar with the culture, lifestyle, and language, and respect these things. As ambassadors for Christ, when I interact with others, I must carefully become familiar with another's culture, lifestyle, and language, and respect that. But oh how difficult it is to not just blabber on and on to another person about the God's Word and the impact it had on me. It is like a catch-22... defend the faith, preach the faith, but don't cross the line so far that others can't catch up; those chains can hold back! I think I have a glimpse into what, "I am an ambassador in chains," meant to Paul... and I can relate! (By all means, though, I'm no where near as evangelistic as Paul, or get anywhere close to his great love for Christ! I WISH I was more like Paul!)
Wrapping up, I guess my reading for prayer tonight has helped! God has rewarded me with another step closer to understanding Him through St. Paul's words in Ephesians. God has helped me, once again, to recognize that fine line of evangelization and "how far is too far? How close is too close?" Life sometimes leaves me with this Ambassador in Chains feeling, and finding the balance of learning when I must speak the Gospel, and take comfort in praying constantly If you made it through reading this, then I thank you! And I ask you, "...pray at every opportunity in the Spirit... and also for me... that I may have the courage to speak as I must."